The City Council voted last week to memorialize the Tuskegee Airmen with a Jamaica street sign for their remarkable bravery during World War II.
A bill to permanently change the name of South Road between Merrick Boulevard and Remington Street to Tuskegee Airmen Way passed the Council unanimously on November 14.
Original crew members Dabney Montgomery and Wilfred Defour attended the stated Council meeting to show their support for the renaming.
“There are so many young people who don’t know the difficulties that their elders had to go through for them to be where they are today,” Montgomery said.
The airmen were the first black military aviators in the United States Armed Forces and fought against Nazi Germany.
“The Tuskegee Airmen have played an extraordinary part in America’s history and the civil rights movement,” said Councilmember Leroy Comrie. “By renaming part of South Road Tuskegee Airmen Way, we are helping to ensure future generations of Americans will remember their dedication, and look to them as examples of heroism in the face of extraordinary obstacles.”
After returning home, “they established themselves by becoming entrepreneurs, giving back to their communities and breaking down racial barriers,” Comrie said.
The airmen’s legacy will also be memorialized at CUNY York College. Currently, plans are underway for a tribute, such as a museum, on the campus along the new Tuskegee Airmen Way.
Of the 944 pilots, 80 were from New York and six of them were from Jamaica.
“This is the way you gain power, by proving that you can do the positive thing that others are doing,” Montgomery said.
The bill, introduced by Councilmember Ruben Wills, now awaits the mayor’s signature.
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